Money as freedom

If there’s one overarching theme to this blog, it’s probably “money as freedom.” There’s nothing wrong with working 9 to 5, or working for “the man,” or even working to age 65, if that’s what you want. But the key phrase here is “what you want.” How many people go coasting through life, never taking a harder look at their assumptions of what’s possible and what they really want for themselves and their family?

Of course, I don’t have the answer to that question. But I do know that in our society, we face some powerful scripts. There seems to be a preferred path for moving through life in North America, and that path is very crowded. If a person doesn’t pay attention, it is very easy to get swept along by the crowd. Finish high school, go to college, get a job, buy a car, buy a house using a mortgage, have kids, buy another car, watch TV to unwind from hard days at work… Did I miss anything? To compete, some people go to a more expensive university, get a better job, buy a faster car and a bigger house.

There’s nothing wrong with this script, per se. It seems to work for millions of people. And it’s impossible to judge anyone who is living out this script by saying they didn’t choose it. But the script isn’t foolproof. There have been problems with unemployment, mortgage rates, real estate prices and increasingly social issues like divorce. The script isn’t working for a lot of people.

This is why I believe that we need to know what we’re working for and why. If the script we have adopted is working for us, great. But we can only know that if we know where we want to go. For a while, there was a lot written about doing internet work from a beach or perpetually traveling. If that’s for you, it may provide an alternate script. But one script isn’t better than another. What matters is knowing what you want from life, and knowing that your actions and choices are moving you towards your goals.

A script only offers a mental shortcut. It is like a pre-packaged way of life. It takes more effort to figure out what you really want, and attune your behaviors and actions to achieving that goal. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be done all at once. You might start by taking up a new hobby, developing a new skill, reading or watching about how others lead their life, taking a month of work to travel or try a different job. But it means being purposeful and exercising your from, a little at a time, to create the life you want.

Are you living your life on purpose? If you could change just one thing that’s within your control, what would it be?

4 thoughts on “Money as freedom”

  1. I never considered myself a life script follower. If I happen to do things which follow the so-called life script then it is a coincidence.

    As I have mentioned in other comments to your blog, I am an outlier. I am “-free” of so many things most poeple do. I am child-free, debt-free, god-free (an atheist), smoke-free, booze-free, job-free (an early retiree), cellphone-free, Facebook-free, Twitter-free, and smartphone-free.

    If I could change one thing, I would like to have a bigger apartment to live in. Sure, that can be achieved but it would be a lot of effort.

  2. Funnily enough, I do “work for the man” (aka government) and money has indeed turned out to be freedom.

    I’ve received an ~8% raise per year, and every year I choose to work 8% less. My co-workers see their raise as an opportunity to buy 8% more stuff.

    I have 8% more time every year to do whatever I like.
    Part of this time is spent researching for profitable investments which will allow me to work even less or not at all (some day!).

    Money is quite unlimited (just ask the FED), time on the other hand…

  3. I never considered myself an outlier but I guess I am. Like @deegee: I am child, debt, smoke, booze, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and smartphone free.

    I wish I could do something about the high level stress of my job and the crazy time contraints I’m under.

    On other other hand, I earn a fairly decent six figure income (200,000+) in private sector upper management.

    I should be able to retire early and in comfort(this is my purpose). But first I have to survive and figure out how to get off this hampster wheel one day.

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